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The Pardoning Power: The Other Civics Lesson.

or Clintons Clemency Caper in Context

By P.S. Ruckman, Jr. Rock Valley College PSRuckman@aol.com

Reporters and commentators routinely spoke of the recent presidential election as a kind of civics lesson. But this paper argues the real civics lesson of 2001 was delivered on January 20. On his last day in office, Bill Clinton pardoned more people than he had in any single day of his presidency. When members of the national news media set out to place Clintons behavior in context, they quickly learned that political scientists have a rich and glorious tradition of ignoring federal executive clemency. Despite the fact that presidents have averaged almost 200 acts of clemency per year for the last ninety years, no top journal in the discipline has ever published an article featuring systematic analysis of this Article II power. This paper provides a brief overview of clemency literature (such as it is) and explains the neglect of the discipline. It then makes the case for incorporating federal executive clemency in our undergraduate textbooks and professional journals. After a discussion of basic terminology, the history and development of the power, and notable acts of executive clemency, I (perhaps for the first time) place President Clintons last minute pardons and overall clemency record in a meaningful context.

Paper prepared for delivery at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, Atlanta, GA (November 7-10, 2001).

2 Depending on when you went to bed election night, you may have thought 1) Al Gore would be the next President of the United States 2) George Bush would be the next President of the United States or 3) nobody really knew who would be the next President of the United States. Ironically, the people who lost the most sleep had the best, up-todate information and, of course, they knew the least. It would be months before anyone knew who won the 2000 Presidential Election and some would continue to explore who really won months after the official answer. 1 While the votes were counted and recounted, and litigation sailed through state and federal court systems, the national news media soon picked up on a catchy way to spin the events. Christian Science Monitor reported the election was serving as a reallife civic lesson for the countrys young people. USA Today reported the phrases Election 2000 and Electoral College had toppled Pamela Anderson in a Lycos listing of most popular web searches. Americans had temporarily forsaken their lust for smut and were searching for an impromptu civics lesson. Wolf Blitzer of CNN called the elections civics lesson in law and politics a silver lining. 2 Although there was no small amount of ambiguity about the exact nature of the supposed lesson, there was one fairly common theme: the Electoral College. The major parties and their candidates are, of course, well aware of the importance of electoral votes and campaign strategies are clearly adjusted to expectations about such votes. Members of the news media also routinely conduct pre-election discussions in terms of electoral votes. 3 On election night, the typical electoral map projected by the major networks is a map of states colored in accordance with who has won the electoral vote in each state. Many maps include the actual number of electoral votes. The capture of electoral votes is just about always announced before the popular voting is calculated, or even complete. And election night reporting is just about always couched in terms of who has won how many electoral votes. The winner is declared on the basis of those projections. Thus, it is difficult to imagine many voters are completely unaware of the existence (and importance) of the Electoral College. 4 It is certainly wonderful that our media are free to color the reporting of political events in almost any fashion, and communicate in language featuring varying degrees of rigor. But, as a teacher of political science (with my own freedom to define my own idea of a good civics lesson), I would suggest the recent presidential election as a civics lesson does not work well.
The author wishes to express appreciation for assistance in the gathering of material for the writing of this paper from the Office of the Pardon Attorney (U.S. Department of Justice), a research team at the University of Chicago currently headed by Richard Posner, David Kincaid and Norman Farnam. The opinions and views of this paper should not be interpreted as indicators or reflections of the opinion and views of any of these persons or institutions. Any errors herein are entirely the responsibility of the author. 2 Wolf Blitzer on the Historic U.S. Presidential Election. CNN.com, November 15, 2000; Francine Keifer. Electoral Side Effect: Kids Are Paying Attention. Christian Science Monitor, November 21, 2000; Leslie Miller. Net Visitors Lust After Civics Info, Not Smut. USA Today Tech Report. December 20, 2000. 3 Some even predicted that Bush would win the popular vote in the 2000 election, but Gore might win the presidency on the basis of the electoral vote! 4 The author recognizes that there is much about the Electoral College that probably remains completely mysterious to the average voter. Who are the electors? How does one become an elector? When do the electors they vote? Where do they vote? What rules (if any) govern how they vote? Most of these mysteries were, of course, left out of the national civics lesson.

3 If a good civics lesson involves teaching things that are rarely taught or easily (and usually) forgotten, if a good civics lesson features information that is interesting and relevant to the American political process, but rarely ever discussed, presented well or understood, if a good civics lesson captures the imagination by informing students a great deal about things they know little or nothing about and are not likely to ever know but for the lesson, if a good civics lesson has a clear, distinct message, then the real civics lesson of 2001 took place on January 19, President Clintons last day in office. CLINTONS CLEMENCY CAPER On January 20, with only a few hours left in his presidency, Bill Clinton granted 140 pardons and 36 commutations of sentence. CNN reported the vast majority of the individuals pardoned were unknown to the public. But the list did include former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, John Fife Symington (former Governor of Arizona), Patricia Hearst, Whitewater figure Susan McDougal, former CIA Director John Deutch, and Democratic Congressman Mel Reynolds. 5 The list of clemency recipients also included the presidents brother, Roger Clinton, and one of the FBIs top-ten most wanted fugitives from justice, Marc Rich. Henry Waxman (D-CA) called Clintons last-minute pardons a mess that should embarrass every Democrat in America. 6 Former President (and fellow Democrat) Jimmy Carter called the last-minute pardons one of Clintons most serious mistakes. Carter called a number of the pardons quite questionable and summarized the entire episode as disgraceful. 7 A former U.S. Pardon Attorney rebuked Clinton for being shortsighted and fueling the appearance of cronyism and influence peddling. 8 President Bush said he was particularly troubled by Clintons pardon of Marc Rich. 9 On February 15, Clinton called Geraldo Rivera on the set of Rivera Live and said he was blindsided by the controversy surrounding his pardons. He told Rivera that he just wanted to do what other presidents [had] done. Clinton (frequently tagged as one of the more savvy politicians of this century) also said that he was bewildered by the reaction to his pardon of a most wanted fugitive whose former wife had contributed millions to his campaigns and presidential library. Two days later, Clinton took the unusual step of defending his pardons in a New York Times editorial. 10 One month later, a Zogby Poll revealed 56% of Americans viewed Clinton unfavorably his most negative rating since he entered office in 1992. 11 Clintons last-minute pardons were not the first controversial clemency decisions of his administration, but they probably represent the ones he will be most often remembered for. The intensity of the reaction to the pardons seemed to have been rivaled only by Gerald Fords pardon of Richard Nixon. The pardoning power was back in the
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In One of His Last Acts as President, Clinton Grants 140 Pardons. CNN.com, January 20, 2001. Peter Slevin and George Lardner, Jr., Rush of Pardons Unusual in Scope, Lack of Scrutiny. Washington Post, March 10, 2001. 7 Carter Rips Rich Pardon. ABC News.com, February 21, 2001. 8 Ex-Pardon Attorney Criticizes Clinton. MSNBC.com, February 28, 2001. 9 Bush Wont Touch Pardon of Financier. MSNBC.com, January 29, 2001. 10 Bill Clinton, My Reasons for the Pardons. New York Times, February 18, 2001. 11 Susan Page, Case Shows the Value of Well-Placed Middlemen. USAToday.com, March 19, 2001.

4 news with a vengeance and lists of controversial pardons were, once again, popping up everywhere. The Available Literature But Clintons last-minute clemency caper produced more than criticism. It also produced an intense, widespread desire to judge the pardons in the light of a clear, accurate historical context (Ruckman, forthcoming). When members of the national news media attempted to consult political scientists and the literature of the discipline for this context, we were generally weighed in the balance and found wanting. The American Political Science Review (APSR), American Journal of Political Science (AJPS) and Journal of Politics (JOP) widely regarded as the top journals in the discipline - have never featured an article which systematically examines clemency (state or federal). In the 1900s presidents averaged almost 200 acts of clemency per year, but political scientists were busy looking elsewhere (Ruckman 1997). Indeed, my 1993 review of the literature uncovered a mere four articles on clemency in the journals of political science. All four appeared in Presidential Studies Quarterly (Orman and Rudoni 1979; Pederson 1977; Rozell 1994; Shichor and Ranish 1980) and only one (Pederson 1977) involved anything like systematic analysis of clemency data. 12 As Clintons administration ended, the most informative and relevant work on federal executive clemency produced within the discipline was probably David Gray Adlers essay, The Presidents Pardon Power. Adlers essay constitutes a chapter in Thomas E. Cronins Inventing the American Presidency (1989). It provides relevant history, legal analysis, political insight and information on the clemency process. Adler also discusses numerous famous examples of presidential pardons and limitations on the use of the power. Despite its lower profile, this essay probably remains the single, bestwritten article on the topic of clemency by a political scientist. The more savvy reporter/researcher may have discovered a 1941 publication by the American Council on Public Affairs, W.H. Humberts The Pardoning Power of the President. Humberts book-length work provides what the top journals of political science have not provided in the sixty years since a serious effort to systematically explore the uses of the clemency power and trends through history. The Pardoning Power examines the legal and political development of the clemency power, but also employs data from the Department of State and Justice Department (stretching back to the 1860s) to examine trends in pardons and commutations, applications for clemency, and the explanations that presidents have given for clemency decisions. In addition, Humbert places clemency statistics in the context of other relevant data (population, crime rate, prison population, etc.). But, of course, 1941 was a long time ago. No modern day Humbert has appeared in, or outside, of the discipline. 13

I have since published articles in Presidential Studies Quarterly and Social Science Quarterly (Ruckman 1993; Ruckman 1995). 13 Humberts work is also somewhat less attractive because of the nature of the data that he employs aggregate data arranged by calendar or fiscal year. Thus, few generalizations emerge from his work with respect to particular acts of clemency, particular presidents or administrations. Presumably, Humbert considered the avoidance of such generalizations to be a goal in the creation of his work.


5 Even further afield from the discipline, was the only book in print in early 2001 that was solely dedicated to the topic of pardons, Kathleen Dean Moores Pardons: Justice, Mercy and the Public Interest. Moores well-written work provides an interesting and valuable discussion of the moral justifications for the exercise of clemency and possible reforms. But, again, it provides little in the way systematic analysis of clemency policy or practice. When Moore does attempt to generalize about trends in the use of clemency (within or across administrations), her analysis is frequently hampered by the use of data from the Department of Justice (aggregate data arranged by fiscal year) or a complete lack of data from the first one hundred years of our nations history (see further discussion below). The end result of scholarly indifference in the discipline of political science is that most of the literature on federal executive clemency exists in the law review format. The further result is that one is hard pressed to find anything in the literature that smacks of systematic analysis of the use of the pardoning power, or trends across administrations. Statistical analysis is nowhere to be found. More commonly, one finds essays on the origins of the power, discussion of particular acts of clemency or classic cases before the United States Supreme Court. William F. Dukers 1977 William and Mary Law Review article, The Presidents Power to Pardon: A Constitutional History and Daniel T. Kobils 1991 Texas Law Review article, The Quality of Mercy Strained: Wresting the Pardoning Power from the King represent what is probably the very best of this literature. These articles are wonderful examples of meticulous research presented in an interesting and informative manner. While neither presentation particularly focuses on data analysis or trends in clemency policy, they remain excellent measures of the quality of a writers research on this topic. That is to say, at this point in time, failure (in this literature) to cite Duker and Kobil amounts to a critical error. The Simple Explanation: Hurdles Why have political scientists so meticulously avoided the systematic study of federal executive clemency? Why did we have so little to offer when the national news media came to us for a context for Clintons behavior? In large part, the answer lies in the amount and types of information available to researchers. If one wants to investigate the exercise of clemency from 1789 to 1893, one must go to seven rolls of microfilm which can be purchased from the National Archives (Microfilm Set T967). These microfilm contain photographs of hand written clemency warrants from the administrations of George Washington to Grover Cleveland. Mixed-in with clemency warrants are warrants of extradition, extra copies of clemency warrants and copies of clemency warrants which were cancelled. The writing is not always easy to read. The warrants are not always in order. And the microfilm do not come with a descriptive pamphlet which informs users of which presidents, or which periods of time, are covered by each roll of microfilm. 14
I think the ugly nature of the microfilm can best be summarized by the fact that, as of November of 2001, to the best of my knowledge, I am the only person who has ever gone through all seven rolls, gathered data, and presented summary. To date, these microfilm have never been summarized by the State Department, the Department of Justice or the Office of the Pardon Attorney.

6 In 1885, the Annual Report of the Attorney General comes to the rescue. The Annual Report is a hardbound publication. It does not contain copies of clemency warrants, but does contain a listing of every individual recipient of clemency, the offense(s) committed, the state of origin, the official form of clemency (see discussion below) and occasional comments by the Attorney General or the President. The best part, of course, is that the Annual Report is typewritten and relatively easy to read. The joy ride ends in 1933. In that year, the Annual Report begins what remains the current practice of the Office of the Pardon Attorney and the Department of Justice. The Report provides aggregate (or summary) statistics on clemency and arranges data by fiscal year unit. As a result, it is impossible to tell who was pardoned, what offenses were committed, where the offenses were committed or even when clemency was granted. The arrangement of data by fiscal year unit also masks which presidents granted clemency, in some instances, and makes it impossible to summarize the exercise of clemency by each year of a presidents term. In the aftermath of the Clinton pardons, members of the national news media were amazed to learn that no one in America had constructed (or even could construct) a chart of presidential pardons, by each year of the term, after 1933. No one knew if Clinton had set the record for the number of individual pardons granted in one day. There was a strong sense that he may have set the record for pardons granted on the very last day in office, but no one really even knew that for sure. In a half-hearted response to media inquiries, the Office of the Pardon Attorney created a list of individual pardons granted by George Bush. That was the best anyone could do. But, the blackout created by the Annual Report of 1933 did not suddenly leap upon us in 2001. It was long in the making. Clemency decisions in the 1930s were made without fanfare or explanation, as far below the radar screen as possible. It was a fairly common thing in the 1940s and 1950s for presidential pardons to be reported in newspapers days, or weeks, after they were granted. In some instances, newspapers reported on pardons that were rumored to have been granted (Ruckman, forthcoming). Today, award-winning presidential biographies routinely say nothing about considerable changes in clemency policy and extraordinary individual acts of clemency. Clemency statistics are absent from sourcebooks on the Presidency (even as they run into the third and fourth editions). It is easier to discover the height, weight, astrological signs and nicknames of presidents than it is to find the number of pardons that each has granted. Dont even bother to look for the number of pardons granted in each year of a presidents term! Presidential libraries are of little help either. If one searches early volumes of the New York Times Index, a heading for pardons can be found. As the 1800's come to a close, the heading for pardons becomes a sub-category under the name of the current president. As the early 1900's proceed, the heading for pardons is placed under the sub-category crime and criminals, which is itself a sub-category under the name of the current president. As the Justice Department starts to report summary data by fiscal year, the heading pardons completely disappears from the Index. The Times thus becomes a useful tool for researchers only if they happen to already know the names of individuals and the dates of presidential actions - information which the Annual Report of the Attorney General stopped reporting in 1933.

7 Recent Developments In early 2001, the Office of the Pardon Attorney created a list of individual pardons granted by former President Bush. After Clinton left office, there followed a CD set of the clemency warrants photographed in Microfilm Set T967 and warrants currently located in the Department of Justice. It appears that, in the past, some authors have traveled to Washington to examine warrants located in the DOJ. Either the nature of the trip or the arrangement of the warrants has prevented any successful effort to systematically summarize their contents. Thus, for the first time, researchers can explore clemency in a way that, previously, could only be done for the years 1789 to 1932. In recent months, I have acquired these CDs from the Office of the Pardon Attorney and exchanged data from the period 1789 to 1932 with a research team headed by Richard Posner at the University of Chicago. Posners group is in the process of bridging the gap from 1933 to present and I am very appreciative of the groups efforts and generosity. In my view, the sudden accessibility to clemency data allows for the first time the opportunity to place President Clintons clemency record in a clear, accurate historical context. There is also every chance that the journals of political science may, at last, pay attention to this important presidential power. WHY STUDY FEDERAL EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY? There are more than a few justifications for the inclusion clemency in our undergraduate textbooks and professional journals. The clemency power is an important part of our scheme of checks and balances, a routine component of salient events in our nations political history, and a key factor in the development of our legal system. Perhaps most important is the fact that every generation of Americans has experienced its own seemingly unforgettable and unforgivable presidential pardon(s). At some point, the discipline should step up to the plate and look for systematic insight where partisanship, speculation and intrigue routinely dominate analyses. Clemency in the Scheme of Checks and Balances The clemency power is clearly an important part of our governments system of checks and balances. It is unfortunate, however, that this check is typically lost in discussions with our undergraduates. Congress can pass a law related to criminal offenses and a president can veto such legislation in a spirit of sharp disagreement. While presidential vetoes are rarely overridden, an override does not signal the end of the conflict. The president then retains the power to pardon those who are convicted under the law. The clemency power can thus be viewed as a possible (and Constitutionally legitimate) extension of a presidents views on policy. This also invites students to think about the effectiveness and potential consequences of the use of political checks. I would admit that this point was generally lost on me, until I examined the clemency record of Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was an ardent advocate of temperance but felt the Volstead Act (also known as the National Prohibition Act) was the wrong way of doing the right thing. In his mind, the government could not regulate the morals

8 and habits of a great cosmopolitan people by placing unreasonable restrictions upon their liberty and freedom. 15 This attitude was clearly reflected in Wilsons first term clemency policy. On average, 20% of the pardons granted in each year of the first term were for offenses were related to alcohol.
FIGURE 1 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------CLEMENCY IN WOODROW WILSONS FIRST TERM Year 1 -------221 33 2 Year 2 -------179 44 2 Year 3 --------195 46 8 Year 4 --------284 48 61

Total Pardons Alcohol-related Drug-related

SOURCE: Annual Report of the Attorney General ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When the Volstead Act came to Wilsons desk, in the second year of his second term, Wilson exercised the veto power. In a rare occurrence, Congress overrode Wilsons veto. After the override, Wilson and his advisors actually considered sending a special message to Congress asking for a repeal of the law. He eventually decided, however, to clarify his partys position on the issue of prohibition and express his opinion in other ways. Consider Wilsons second term clemency activity, keeping in mind that the Volstead Act emerges in the second year.
FIGURE 2 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------CLEMENCY IN WOODROW WILSONS SECOND TERM Year 1 -------234 53 9 Year 2 -------324 63 5 Year 3 --------420 99 15 Year 4 --------623 143 27

Total Pardons Alcohol-related Drug-related

SOURCE: Annual Report of the Attorney General ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the aftermath of the Volstead Act, Wilson increased the number of pardons for alcohol-related offenses. On average, 22% of the pardons granted in each year of the second term were for offenses were related to alcohol. In the third year of the second term one out of every four of Wilsons pardons were for such offenses. As he left office, Wilson (as if to make a point?) set a personal record for alcohol-related pardons. 16
Joseph P. Tumulty. 1921. Woodrow Wilson as I Knew Him. Doubleday, Page and Company: New York. It is also quite interesting to note the trends in drug-related offenses throughout Wilsons two terms. There are very few such pardons in the first term, but the number increases throughout the term and rises dramatically in the fourth year. As the second term begins, the bottom falls out and the trends of the first term are repeated.
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9 The checks and balances theme was actually well-advertised during the Clinton administration. Clinton told a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine that the sentences in many [drug] cases of were far too long for non-violent offenders. The President also expressed his view that it was unconscionable to punish crack cocaine offenders more harshly than powder cocaine offenders. In December 2000, USA Today speculated Clintons views might translate into hundreds of pardons at the end of the term. 17 Clemency and Salient Events in American Politics The clemency power has also been related to (if not a critical feature) of many major events in our nations political history (Ruckman 1997). It simply represents the side of events most likely to be overlooked in our lectures. The irony is that presidential pardons can be an excellent tool for helping undergraduates actually remember these events and, as a consequence, our nations historical development. George Washington granted pardons to participants in the so-called Whiskey Rebellion and John Adams (although sharply critical of Washington) did likewise for participants in Fries Rebellion. The presidential election of 1801 (the first competitive and truly controversial election in our nations history) featured several clemency controversies. Thomas Jefferson publicly promised to pardon those convicted under the Alien-Sedition Acts, if elected. Opposition newspapers loudly accused President Adams of granting conditional pardons to silence his critics and unconditional pardons to enhance his chances for reelection. Jefferson won the election and kept his promise. Of course, one of his pardons went to Thomas Callender, who then turned on Jefferson and spread the Sally Hemmings story. Jefferson went on to use the pardoning power in an effort to manipulate witnesses in the Aaron Burr conspiracy trial and his enthusiasm for Burrs conviction resulted in the first presidential subpoena (Kobil 1991, Ruckman 1994, Ruckman, forthcoming). The clemency power was used to procure the much-needed assistance of pirates in the War of 1812 (Ruckman, forthcoming) and Abraham Lincoln used the power to discourage southern resistance in the War Between the States. Lincolns assassination was routinely attributed to the fact that he denied clemency to one John Yates Beall (a friend of John Wilkes Booth). Presidential amnesties were major events in the aftermath of the War and the first rumblings of Andrew Johnsons impeachment were heard in quarters where he was suspected (if not outright accused) of abusing the pardoning power (Ruckman and Kincaid 1999). In the closing days of his administration, Johnson pardoned several people convicted as conspirators in Lincolns assassination. The clemency power also played a part in Ulysses S. Grants Whiskey Ring scandal, the presidential election of 1976 (where presidential candidates had various views on how to treat Vietnam draft evasion), the Iran-Contra Scandal and the Whitewater scandal. In addition, clemency decisions can be easily linked to the three-day Washington Riots of 1848, the Oregon Land Frauds scandal, the economic Panic of 1907 (leading directly to the creation of the Federal Reserve), the Watergate affair, and the political

Dennis Cauchon, Clinton Examines Clemency Cases. USA Today, December 21, 2000.

10 movements of socialists, anti-war activists, black power advocates, and female suffragettes (Ruckman, Forthcoming). Clemency and the Development of the Legal System The clemency power also deserves our attention because of the important role it has played in the development of the legal system. Scholars routinely note the clemency power has played a major role in the development of criminal laws recognition of an insanity defense, self-defense, compulsion and the more lenient treatment of juvenile offenders. Where the law once made no distinctions, the clemency power frequently served as the more discerning eyes of the justice system. The modern day hardcore law-and-order type might very well be surprised to see the justifications offered for pardons granted in the 1700 and 1800s. Attorney Generals and presidents frequently justified decisions on the basis of circumstances of birth and youth, the lack of opportunity to develop a finely tuned moral sense, the influence individuals have on each other, temporary lapses in insanity, and other extenuating circumstances. Clemency has also been the topic of numerous classic decisions by the United States Supreme Court. Given the minimal language of the Constitution, the Court has had to declare the right of presidents to remit fines and forfeitures, 18 pardon criminal contempt of courts, 19 award conditional pardons, 20 and commute sentences 21 even against the wishes of the individual(s) involved. 22 The Court has also placed the exercise of the power beyond legislative control (see further discussion below). 23 Many of these cases (and others) have raised interesting questions of constitutional law, some of which have yet to be clearly answered. When presented well, these questions can create excellent discussion in the undergraduate classroom. Students just about always agree, for example, that Gerald Chapman 24 should not have been allowed to refuse executive clemency. They begin serious reconsideration of their position, however, when they hear the case of George Burdick. 25 Students are also usually intrigued by the ramifications of pardons granted before conviction and the possibility that a president might, one day, pardon himself. Once students agree to the fact that the president should not be able to commute a sentence from 10 years to 15 years (not an actual reduction, but an increase in the severity of the sentence), they are usually interested in Vuco Perovichs argument that the president had treated him more harshly by commuting his death sentence (against his will) to a sentence of life imprisonment. 26 Maurice Schick also complained when his death sentence was commuted to life in prison without any possibility of parole. 27

The Laura, 114 U.S. 411 (1885); Osborn v. United States, 91 U.S. 474 (1875); Illinois Central Railroad v. Bosworth, 133 U.S. 92 (1890). 19 Ex Parte Grossman, 267 U.S. 87 (1925). 20 Ex Parte Wells, 59 U.S. (18 How.). 21 Armstrong v. United States, 80 U.S. (13 Wall) 128 (1871). 22 Chapman v. Scott, 10 F.2nd (D. Conn. 1925); Biddle v. Perovich, 274 U.S. 480 (1927). 23 Ex Parte Garland, 71 U.S. (4 Wall) 333 (1866). 24 Chapman v. Scott, 10 F.2nd (D. Conn. 1925); 25 Burdick v. United States, 236 U.S. 79 (1915). 26 Biddle v. Perovich, 274 U.S. 480, 486 (1927). 27 Schick v. Reed, 419 U.S. 256 (1974)


CLEMENCY 101: THE BASICS The term clemency is an umbrella concept which covers considerable territory. Indeed, it refers to numerous manifestations of mercy in the criminal justice system which might originate in any of the three branches of government. A pardon is, for example, one form of clemency. A commutation (or reduction in the severity) of a sentence is, likewise, another form of clemency. In some instances pardons and commutations come with conditions. As a result, the conditional pardon and conditional commutation are forms of clemency. If there is a desire to grant clemency to a large number of offenders, or to an entire class of persons, who are potentially in violation of the law, another form of clemency might be utilized. The amnesty (or general pardon) is granted to individuals en bloc, before conviction, and can also feature conditions (see Figure 3, attached). The word clemency is also broad enough to include the remission of fines and forfeitures or the delay of executions by the granting of respites (Adler 1989; Buchanan 1978; Duker 1977; Kobil 1991; 1993). Media presentations and informal discussions frequently avoid the term clemency and instead use the word pardon as the umbrella concept. Thus, it is common to find writers who note Jimmy Carter pardoned Patricia Hearst when, in fact, Carter granted a conditional commutation of sentence to Hearst. Historians frequently speak of pardons issued during the administrations of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson when amnesties would, technically, be the more correct language. The explanation for our inversion of the language is most likely due to the fact that pardon is the only word explicitly mentioned in the United States Constitution. All of the other forms of clemency have been interpreted as emanating from that word. The Colonial Period and the Articles of Confederation A 1939 report of release procedures in the United States notes the first settlers [on this continent] did not want to reestablish the tyrannical power they had just fled in Europe. This attitude was clearly reflected in colonial statutes regarding the exercise of clemency. The first Virginia Charter (1606) contained no pardoning power and the second (1609) granted the power to the Governor and a Council. A third Charter (1616) removed the power completely. The pardoning power was shared by the Lord Proprietor, a Council, and proprietors in the 1665 Charter of the Carolinas. New York and New Jersey allowed the Governor and a Council to grant pardons after a transcript of trials was sent to proprietors. The Governor shared the pardoning power with company officers in the Massachusetts Bay colony. Connecticut placed the power in the hands of the General Assembly, the Governor and six assistants (Ruckman, forthcoming). Moore (1989) notes many colonists agreed that there could be no executive pardoning power in a democracy, where a crime is an offense against the people, not an affront to the King. As the economic success of the colonies became a critical ingredient in the power of the King, colonial Governors (as agents of the King) began to claim and assert the clemency power for themselves. That is to say, the march toward unrestricted clemency

12 powers in the hands of King-like representatives of the King became part of the list of general complaints which brought on the American Revolution. After the Revolution, power generally shifted to the legislative branch and the pardoning power was either completely taken away from governors or shared with a small decision making body. Significantly, the Articles of Confederation contained no provision for executive clemency at the national level (Duker 1977; Humbert 1941; Kobil 1991). The Philadelphia Convention When delegates eventually sat down in Philadelphia to amend the Articles, they were almost immediately confronted with the so-called Virginia Plan. Its creators were dissatisfied with the Articles, but obviously not concerned by the absence of clemency powers at the national level. Like the Articles, the Virginia plan did not contain a provision for executive clemency. Eventually, the smaller states responded with a plan of their own. On June 15, the so-called New Jersey plan was placed on the table. The New Jersey plan was the kind of plan the Convention was advertised to consider. But, like the Articles and the up-start Virginia plan, the New Jersey plan contained no provision for the pardoning power. 28 The Virginia and New Jersey plans outlined sharp, serious divisions among the delegates, but a compromise with respect to the legislative branch saved the day. Following the Great Compromise, a draft of the Conventions work was submitted to the Committee on Detail. This first draft of the Constitution, like the Articles of Confederation, the Virginia plan and the New Jersey plan did not contain a provision for the pardoning power (Duker 1977; Humbert 1941; Kobil 1991). In relative privacy of the Committee on Detail, the pardoning power was scrawled into the margins by John Rutledge of South Carolina (Humbert 1941). A biographer once noted Rutledge came to Philadelphia with long experience in governing and a strong aversion to democracy. The penciled-in pardoning power was, however, just one of many dubious distinctions in the life of John Rutledge. 29 The work of the Committee was reported back to the floor of the Convention on August 6, but Rutledges insertion was not discussed until the end of the August 25 session. The Philadelphia delegates were clearly concerned with the legislative Article, which eventually made up over half of the Constitution. Much has been said of the fact that all efforts to limit the pardoning power at the Constitutional Convention were rebuffed. While certainly an intriguing spin, this observation conceals so much more than it reveals. No one at the Constitutional Convention stood and argued at length for the dire necessity of the pardoning power. The power was hardly discussed at all. As a result, any rigorous assessment of federal executive clemency at the Constitutional Convention would recognize two distinct qualities of discussion and


See 1 The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, at 20-23 (M. Farrand ed. 1911). Rutledge went on to serve the shortest term for any Justice in the history of the United States Supreme Court (one month) and, on a second nomination, became the first nominee ever to be rejected by the Senate. He was the only nominee to the Chief Justice position to be rejected by the Senate and the first to go insane.

13 debate. First, the discussions of the pardoning power were rather brief. This was, in part, due to the fact the primary concerns focused on the legislature and, in part, due to the fact that the Convention was coming to an end. Second, discussions of the pardoning power featured no eulogies as to the necessity and benefits of clemency. What little discussion there was consistently ran in the same direction. It focused on fears and concerns and the need to limit or restrict the power (Kobil 1991). After the Convention Humbert (1941) notes comparatively little discussion of the pardoning power from the time the delegates left Philadelphia to the time the Constitution went into effect. Alexander Hamilton (who suggested the idea of having a King in America at the Philadelphia Convention) did take the trouble to pre-empt criticisms and concerns with a defense of the power in Federalist 74. Hamilton argued that humanity and good policy required the prerogative to pardon in order that the criminal codes not appear too sanguine and cruel. He also suggested that, in seasons of insurrection, a welltimed pardon could keep the nation from collapsing. In Hamiltons mind, the pardoning power was best placed in the hands of one man who was as little as possible fettered in the use of that power. Hamiltons defense is perhaps thoughtful, especially given the strong sense that the new government offered by the Constitution (and the policies it would allow Hamilton to institute) might not be wildly popular. But his faith in the substance of the argument is perhaps best assessed by the fact that he was utterly merciless towards those participating in the so-called Whiskey Rebellion and Fries Rebellion. Hamilton argued against clemency in both instances and bitterly criticized the decisions of presidents Washington and Adams afterward. Kobil (1991) notes Hamiltons British clemency model was not the model prevailing in most states. Dukers classic 1977 article on clemency is less rosy in its summary of the Convention: With little discussion, and arguments not strong enough to meet the test of time, the Philadelphia Convention, with the concurrence of the state ratifying conventions, incorporated into the Constitution, by nondefinitive language, the presidential power to pardon. The Pardoning Power in the United States Supreme Court Article II, Section 2 states that the President shall have the power to pardon offenses against the United States except in cases of impeachment. Interestingly, the Supreme Courts clemency decisions have featured two distinct and contradictory views of the nature of the pardoning power. I will first briefly summarize the two cases which highlight the Courts contrasting approaches, then discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each. The first of the Courts general approaches to the clemency power emerges in the 1833 case, U.S. v. Wilson. 30 Wilson and a partner were sentenced to hang for robbing the

32 U.S. (7 Pet.) 150 (1833).

14 mail and putting the life of a driver in jeopardy. The partner was executed on schedule, but President Jackson was convinced to exercise clemency. Jacksons commutation, like so many other things in the case, was a bit unusual. Instead of commuting the death sentence to life in prison, Jackson basically commuted Wilsons sentence to anything but death. The commutation thus allowed for a prison sentence (which would have to then be determined by the trial court) and further trials and convictions. As Wilson was about to be sentenced in an additional case, the trial court was curious about what impact the Presidents pardon had (or should have) in its decisionmaking. But Wilson and his lawyer made no mention of the pardon at any point in the second trial and, when asked, refused to seek any benefit from it. The judges remained uncertain as to whether they should simply pretend there was no pardon or proceed to sentence Wilson with the pardon in mind. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the opinion for the United States Supreme Court and crafted a view of clemency which appears to be the standard to this day. Marshalls opinion suggested the principles respecting the operation and effect of a pardon and the rules for how pardons could be used could be found by looking into the books of the executive of that nation whose language is our language. That is, Marshall took the position that the words of the Constitution should be interpreted in light of the practices of the King of England. Marshalls view has certainly spread throughout the Courts clemency cases. In Ex Parte Garland, 31 the clemency power is described as unlimited (except in cases of impeachment) and extending to every offense known to law. Garland also notes the presidents power to pardon cannot be fettered by any legislative restrictions and can be exercised at any time after the commission of an offense, either before legal proceedings are taken, or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgement. Similarly, in Schick v. Reed, 32 the Court observes the pardoning power cannot be modified, abridged, or diminished by Congress. The second of the Courts broad views of the clemency power flows from the 1927 case, Biddle v. Perovich. 33 Vuco Perovich was sentenced to death in 1905, but delayed his sentence through a series of appeals and respites. In 1909, President Taft finally commuted his sentence to life in prison. In the 1920s, however, Perovich was released from prison after a U.S. District Court judge ruled Tafts commutation was without [Perovichs] consent and without legal authority. The case was certified to the United States Supreme Court. Justice Holmes delivered the opinion for the unanimous Court and seemed to all but ignore the fact that Wilson and had ever been decided. Holmes wrote that a pardon was no longer a private act of grace from an individual happening to possess power. Instead, Holmes asserted the power was part of a Constitutional scheme and a determination that the public welfare will be better served by inflicting less that what the judgement fixed. Holmes then took the position that any commutation granted by a president has to be within the scope and words of the Constitution. The first approach to the pardoning power (asserted in Wilson) generally attempts to interpret the words of the Constitution in light of the actions of the King of England.
31 32 33

71 U.S. (4 Wall) 333 (1866). 419 U.S. 256 (1974). 274 U.S. 480 (1927).

15 This approach is, of course, highly problematic as we specifically fought a revolution in order to live under a constitutional republic (complete with separation of powers and checks and balances). The second problem with the President-as-King approach is the fact that the history of clemency is a history of abuse (Adler1989; Cowlishaw 1975; Moore 1993). The King regularly sold pardons and allowed payments for those who could not afford the lump sum. James II sold pardons for 16,000 pounds sterling, but modestly kept only half of the fee for himself. The other half was divided between two favorite mistresses. Conditional pardons were used to populate colonies and increase troops. General pardons were also customary exercises as a prelude to army building and the conduct of war (Kobil 1991). Edward III extended clemency in honor of his own 50th birthday. It is difficult to imagine the Founding Fathers considered the King a good role model. The President-as-King model is also problematic because it assumes a static relationship between the King and Parliament and ignores the clear, historical development of the clemency power. Even a casual glance into the past indicates these are critical errors. In the earliest times, the crown had many competitors in the exercise of clemency; including the church, the great earls, the feudal courts and Parliament (Ringold 1966; Ruckman 1997). The fourteenth century featured numerous abuses of the power which led, in turn, to a series of Parliamentary attempts to limit the Kings use of clemency. Henry VIII is generally credited, however, with seizing the power for the crown in 1535. 34 But further abuses in the 1600 and 1700s led to further complaints and successful attempts by Parliament to limit the power. 35 As a result, any notion that the King could exercise the power without limitation is patently false - at least for the more recent periods of history (Kobil 1991; Ruckman 1993; Ruckman, forthcoming). A Court wishing to free the president of any restraint in the exercise of pardons can focus on the period before 1600. A Court wishing to align the president with England at the time of the Revolution, the colonies and the states has the opportunity to pay attention to distinct trends in the exercise of clemency in the period after1600. The second general approach of the Court attempts to interpret the words of the Constitution in terms of their plain meaning and the system of government created by the document itself. This approach thus has built in standards which are more current and, arguably, more relevant. But, of course, it is not without complication. First, the words of the Constitution may be clear in meaning (in the case of the pardoning power), but there are obviously very few of them. The document cannot be reasonably interpreted as a specific blueprint for the exercise of clemency. There might also be some concern about the central role that the Supreme Court would play in federal executive clemency if it took upon itself the chore of interpreting the presidents power in light of the context of the Constitution and our system of government. The Court, of course, engages in such exercises routinely in matters related
Kobil (1993) notes this was also the same year that Sir Thomas More was executed making it clear that Henry III would tolerate no opposition. Henry actually employed the clemency power by commuting Mores sentence from disembowelment to hanging. 35 Duker (1977) notes the pardoning power was given much attention between 1679 and 1700. The power was limited by the Habeas Corpus Act (1679), the removal of a clause from the Declaration of Rights in 1689 and the Act of Settlement (1700). Kobil (1993) notes Parliament also gained the power to pardon via legislative acts in 1721.

16 to the First and Fourteenth Amendments and various phrases in the Bill of Rights and not without controversy. I would contend, however, that the brevity of the Constitution almost guaranteed the prominence of the Supreme Court in the interpretation of the pardoning power. The issue is not so much whether the Court will be an important player in the interpretation of the power as how it will choose to play its part. In the case of the pardoning power, the Court appears to have generally abdicated its role as referee and granted presidents the power of a King. But, as well all know, the Court can give and take away. In my view, it is much more desirable for the Court to take the time, energy, and effort to interpret the pardoning power in the context of the Constitution and our system of government. Unfortunately, this will never be as easy as simply declaring the president King, pretending the King of England operated without restrictions, and acting as though the Founding Fathers set things up this way after much care and deliberation. Notable Acts of Executive Clemency While it is certainly not my purpose here to outline the history of presidential pardons, it must be emphasized that notable acts of clemency have been a feature of presidential administrations from George Washington to Bill Clinton. Every generation of Americans has seen its outrageous and seemingly unforgettable presidential pardon(s) and each generation has successfully forgotten the stun, shock, celebration and resentment of previous generations. In my forthcoming book, Pardon Me, Mr. President, I am careful to describe these exercises in forgetfulness in terms of notable acts of clemency - as opposed to controversial acts of clemency. From the standpoint of a political scientist, the distinction is an important one to make. It is clear that some of the great public controversies surrounding presidential pardons have been sparked, fueled, and driven by partisan politics, or simple animosity toward the president. In these circumstances, critics of the president may very well have enjoyed an initial advantage in the court of public opinion. Presidents, after all, gave the pardons to criminals. When presidents (for whatever reason) provide no explanation(s) for their clemency decisions, or provide explanations which appear odd, incomplete, or notably unconvincing, partisan and personal critics can gain critical momentum in the national news media and the court of public opinion with relatively little effort. These episodes provide critics with a means to vent frustration, disappointment, and anger. But the effort to stir controversy over presidential pardons has often - at the same time - highlighted an important fact about the world of politics. In politics, controversy is in the eye of the beholder. Furthermore, in the world of politics controversy is imagined, peddled, stirred, directed and, in some circumstances, the clear sign of desperation among those without power or the force of argument. Andrew Johnsons energetic use of the clemency power annoyed many and fueled the first presidential impeachment. When the same Andrew Johnson left the White House, and openly regretted that he had not pardoned a few thousand more people, he was repeatedly cheered, crowd after crowd. John Adams is often given high marks for his pardon of participants in Fries Rebellion, but Adams cabinet strongly (and unanimously) opposed the pardons and Alexander Hamilton considered them downright foolish. President Carters amnesty for Vietnam draft evasion was certainly welcomed by

17 thousands (perhaps millions) of Americans. But millions of Americans (including many Veterans) saw the amnesty as an insult to principles of law, the war effort and the memory of our dead. Were the decisions of Johnson, Adams and Carter controversial? If all one needs for controversy is one angry person and an ounce of disagreement, the answer is certainly yes. But if controversy is more intelligently thought of as something that requires deep (and perhaps widespread) division which is the by-product of a reasonable and fair perception of misapplication of rules, dishonesty, or indifference to justice, then the answer is not so clear. It will certainly depend on who one is talking to. The clearly subjective nature of controversy is further exacerbated by the fact that, in the world of political discourse, controversy is routinely peddled, stirred, and manipulated. Indeed, a wildly popular (though usually mindless) way to criticize, or minimize, a political opponent is to attach the word controversial to their name, or their views of public policy. The ploy is, of course, based on the unstated premise that many people do not like controversy, or that controversy is generally thought of as bad. If someone, is controversial, then there must be something wrong with them! As a result, a list of controversial acts of clemency would itself be controversial. The selection process for such a list would be hopelessly subjective. The presence of controversy would be difficult to determine systematically - with any degree of rigor - and the judgments about controversial acts would always be open to the charge of partisanship, or bias. In the minds of many, Gerald Fords pardon of Richard Nixon was as bad as it gets. In the minds of others, the pardon made perfect sense. That is politics. So, having completely abandoned any attempt at gathering together a list of controversial pardons, Pardon Me. Mr. President focuses on what I call notable acts of federal executive clemency. I categorize acts of clemency as notable on the basis of the fame or prominence of individuals who were pardoned, 36 the degree of public attention generated by a presidents decision and the level of public debate, 37 and the impact that clemency actions have had on the interpretation of the Constitution. 38 At this point in my writing, I have identified almost two hundred such pardons. But I think the simplest way to impress upon undergraduate students our amazing ability to simply forget the unforgettable, is to provide (or even discuss) a list of notable acts of clemency. Perhaps, considering recent events, 39 the impression can be made more dramatically than ever.

In some instances individuals have become famous because of a presidential pardon. Pardons have generated news coverage, editorials, commentary, public debate, public relations campaigns, formal protests, formal investigations and calls for investigation. In some instances, coverage, commentary, debate, protests and public relations campaigns appear before presidents have even granted clemency. 38 A distinct advantage of the emphasis on notable pardons is the ability to focus on pardons which are interesting and noteworthy, but generally void of anything like controversy. Clintons pardons of Preston King, Freddie Meeks and Henry Flipper are examples of such pardons. 39 At the time of the writing of this paper, the United States is at war with terrorists in Afghanistan. The war is the direct result of a terrorist act committed a little over one month ago. Two commercial airline jets were high jacked and flown directly into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Thousands of lives were lost as the Towers collapsed.


18 Most students are probably aware of the current national concerns about anthrax and may also be aware of the recent closing of the House of Representatives. 40 There is, however, a very good chance that they are not aware that a bomb went off in the Capitol in 1983. There is also a good chance that they are not aware that, in 1954, three individuals sprayed bullets from the visitors gallery of the House of Representatives and hit five members of Congress. The individuals who were caught, found responsible (and punished) for these acts (and another individual who attempted to assassination President Truman) all received presidential pardons. Fame can be limited, and fleeting, but undergraduate students are also usually surprised to learn that George Steinbrenner (owner of baseballs New York Yankees) once received a presidential pardon. I have found the following presidential pardons useful in impressing listeners of our ability to forget presidential pardons, even when they are connected with famous persons, salient events in American politics, or seemingly unforgettable crimes.
FIGURE 4 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------SELECTED NOTABLE ACTS OF CLEMENCY Roger Clinton Rick Hendrick Armand Hammer George Steinbrenner Junior Johnson Charles Harrison Lolita Lebron Rafael Miranda Andres Cordero Peter Yarrow G. Gordon Liddy Jimmy Hoffa David Beck Iva Toguri Rudolph Abel Oscar Collazo James P. Thomas Frederick Cook Francis Townsend Marcus Garvey Kate OHare Eugene Debs Robert Stroud William Van Schaik President Clintons brother Famous racecar driver Former President of Occidental Petroleum Company Professional baseball owner, New York Yankees Famous racecar driver a.k.a. Tex, coach, former player Harlem Globetrotters Sprayed bullets in the House of Representatives Sprayed bullets in the House of Representatives Sprayed bullets in the House of Representatives Singer for pop group Peter, Paul and Mary Conspicuous Watergate figure Former Teamsters President Former Teamsters President a.k.a. Tokyo Rose Soviet spy traded for U-2 pilot Gary Powers Attempted to assassinate President Truman Chair, House Un-American Activities Committee Claimed (against Peary) he discovered the North Pole Leader of the Townsend Old-Age Pension Movement Internationally known black leader First female to run for U.S. Senate, prominent socialist Socialist, presidential candidate a.k.a. the Birdman of Alcatraz Capt.of General Slocum (burned in NY, killing 1,000)

SOURCE: P.S. Ruckman, Jr., Pardon Me, Mr. President (forthcoming).


Members of the House and Senate apparently made a joint agreement to shut down, but members of the Senate later decided to stay.


CLINTONS CLEMENCY CAPER IN CONTEXT Armed with my own original data set (1789-1933) and data generously shared by the Office of the Pardon Attorney (U.S. Department of Justice) and Richard Posners research team at the University of Chicago (1933-2001), I will now attempt to place President Clintons clemency record in a clear, accurate historical context. This context was largely unavailable until now (see comments above). While there are several dimensions of Clintons clemency record that one might focus on, this paper will concentrate on four that are most appropriate for the undergraduate classroom. Undergraduates are more likely to be interested in these topics because they have received the most media attention 1) Clintons sparing use of clemency 2) Clintons lastminute pardons 3) the pardon of a fugitive from justice and 4) clemency and the politics of personal, or inside, influence. Clinton: the Unforgiving President While Clintons timing and style may have been noteworthy, his overall clemency record actually has a distinct normal or as expected feel about it. The overall number of presidential pardons steadily decreased across the administrations of Johnson, Nixon, Nixon/Ford, Carter and Reagan (Ruckman 1997). If not anyone else, those in search of clemency were getting the message. Clemency applications steadily declined as well. In full step with the trend, George Bush granted fewer pardons (77) than any full-term president since the 74 pardons granted in Thomas Jeffersons second term. Clinton was, of course, the first Democrat to wield the pardoning power in some time. As he entered office, the number of clemency applications increased to their highest level in almost thirty years (Ruckman 1997). 41 But Clinton became the first president since George Washington to pardon no one in two full years of a term. The 56 total pardons granted in Clintons first term represented the lowest number for an administration since the 45 pardons granted in Thomas Jeffersons first term. There were a lot of disappointed applicants, but Clintons first term was, again, quite consistent with a forty-year trend. Early on, Clintons second term was noticeably different from the first. As the second year ended, Clinton had already granted more pardons (59) than he had in the entire first term. More importantly, the number of pardons steadily increased across the second term and going into the fourth year. Indeed, the fourth year of Clintons second term (which accounts for 77% of all of Clintons pardons) contained almost every clue one could need to suspect that lastminute clemency grants were a distinct possibility. On March 15, 2000, Clinton granted clemency to 18 individuals. 42 On July 7, he granted clemency to 22 individuals. 43 On
There were 666 applications in fiscal year 1993 (up from 379 in fiscal year 1992 and 318 in 1991) and 808 in fiscal year 1994. The 1994 figure was the highest since 1967, when there were 863 applications for clemency (Ruckman, Forthcoming). 42 17 pardons and 1 commutation of sentence. 43 17 pardons and 5 commutations of sentence. Josh Gernstein, Presidential Clemency. ABC News.com. July 9, 2000.

20 November 21, he granted clemency to 13 individuals. 44 Three days before Christmas, Clinton granted clemency to 62 individuals.45 The surprising last day was thus long in the making if one was simply paying attention. Even with a last-minute clemency splurge (140 pardons and 36 commutations of sentence), Clintons overall numbers (465 pardons) can be fairly described as lower than Carters (509 pardons), comparable to Reagans (397 pardons) and consistent with long-standing trends in the exercise of clemency. Clinton: the Last-Minute Deliveryman The last-minute nature of President Clintons clemency activity drew considerable attention in and of itself. Waiting until the end of a term to grant pardons might seem odious to critics, since there may not be time to hold a president responsible for his actions (or at least cause some amount of grief or regret). But, of course, the freedom from public criticism and/or partisan retaliation might be just the very thing a president needs to make the fair decision in a tough case. The development of rules and guidelines for clemency in the Department of Justice and the Office of the Pardon Attorney may also have the unintended consequence of encouraging presidents to consider (and grant) more pardons at the end of the term. If an applicant has not met the DOJs recommended five-year waiting period, for example, and it is only the first year of the presidents term, the president may feel more comfortable insisting that the applicant wait. That way, the president does not violate the DOJs recommendation, the applicant can wait for the recommended period (or a larger portion of it) and the president can always reconsider the case later. At the end of the term, there is no later. Margaret Colgate Love, a somewhat outspoken critic of Clintons clemency behavior (and former U.S. Pardon Attorney), told a congressional subcommittee that, between 1900 and 1980, there had been no particular increase in the number of clemency grants at the end of an administration. 46 Two weeks earlier, Love had appeared on the McNeil Lehrer New Hour and suggested the huge number of pardons granted by Clinton was the first time so many pardons had occurred at the very end of the term. Love added that usually Presidents pardon evenly across their term or evenly across the year. 47 The Washington Post likewise reported no previous president had issued such a large number of unfiltered pardons at the last possible moment and Clintons predecessors generally granted pardons steadily throughout their terms. 48 All of the available evidence suggests presidents have not pardoned evenly across the term and pardons are often granted more frequently as the term advances.

12 pardons and 1 commutation of sentence. 59 pardons and 3 commutations of sentence. Clinton Grants Clemency to 62. USA Today, December 23, 2000; Clinton Grants Pardons to 59. Miami Herald, December 23, 2000. 46 Margaret Colgate Love. Statement at Hearing on Presidential Pardons, Senate Judiciary Committee, February 28, 2001. 47 Margaret Colgate Love. NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Pardon Probe. February 14, 2001 48 Peter Slevin and George Lardner, Jr. Rush of Pardons Unusual in Scope, Lack of Scrutiny. Washington Post, March 10, 2001.


21 On his last day in office, George Washington pardoned almost as many people as he had in the previous eight years of his administration combined (Ruckman 1994). My own analysis of clemency from 1789 to 1995 reveals twenty administrations have featured the greatest amount of clemency activity in the fourth year of the term. 49 These administrations all fell within the time period 1789 to 1933 the only years for which one could calculate such figures at the time the paper was written (Ruckman 1995a). Data recently collected by researchers at the University of Chicago indicate, however, that modern presidents have continued to carry on the last-minute tradition. Eisenhower (first and second terms), Johnson (succession term), Carter, Reagan (second term), and Bush all pardoned more people in the fourth year of their terms than in the first three (Ruckman, Forthcoming). In more than a few instances, fourth year surges in pardons have been quite significant. Consider the distribution of pardons through each year of the following presidencies:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------PARDONS PER YEAR OF TERM SELECTED PRESIDENCIES President Adams Madison (2nd) Monroe (1st) Buchanan Grant (1st) Arthur Wilson (2nd) Coolidge (1st) Eisenhower (1st) Eisenhower (2nd) Reagan (2nd) Bush Year 1 0 15 5 21 107 54 234 272 21 43 33 10 Year 2 3 16 24 19 169 76 324 197 74 168 25 0 Year 3 5 21 36 37 125 47 420 245 130 104 30 29 Year 4 13 31 67 73 217 160 623 452 291 202 59 38

SOURCE: P.S. Ruckman, Jr., Pardon Me, Mr. President (forthcoming)


Despite these long-standing patterns, the fourth year of the term may not be of so much interest to some as clemency decisions made in the final days, or hours, of an administration. 50 In my earlier research, I was able to examine the number of pardons granted in the last days of presidencies in the period 1789 to 1933. I chose, somewhat arbitrarily, the first three days of the month of March as my last-minute period and discovered a fair amount of increase in pardoning in final days of the administrations of

John Adams, Thomas Jefferson (first term), James Madison (first and second terms), James Monroe (first term) Andrew Jackson (second term), Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Ulysses S. Grant (first and second terms), Chester Arthur, and Grover Cleveland (second term). 50 It was occasionally reported that President Clinton granted his last-minute pardons on January 19, but waited to make them official on January 20.


22 Johnson, Hayes, Wilson, Grant and Coolidge. None of these presidents, however, granted more than 30 pardons. As a result, even with George Washingtons eventful last day in office, it appears as though Clinton may very well have set the record for the highest number of pardons granted on the last day of a term. Clinton: the Fugitives Dream Come True Of course, one of the more controversial last-minute pardons was granted to Marc Rich. In 1983, Rich fled the United States and raced to Switzerland. He left behind a fifty-one count indictment and accusations of evading forty-eight million dollars in taxes. There were many ways to criticize the Rich pardon, but one of the more popular criticisms focused on the fact that Rich was a fugitive from justice. In preparation for my forthcoming book, I scanned the Annual Report of the Attorney General over a twenty-five year period (1907 to 1932) with the specific goal of finding pardons that were given to fugitives from justice. Even though my approach was somewhat casual (essentially a lot of fast eyeballing of very, very small print), I found a dozen such instances. 51 A one every other year estimate for the period must certainly be low, or conservative, as I may very well have overlooked some relevant cases and, in some instances, the Report may simply not have mentioned the fugitive status of clemency recipients. Of the twelve fugitives I quickly identified, eight had escaped from prison and four fled either before their crimes were detected or during the appellate process (and they were presumably out on bond). George Hulme was fugitive for 21 years, L. Preast for 30 years and William Kirby Robinson for 32 years. The only hint of controversy in any of these cases appears in that of J.T. Woodson. Woodson was charged with using the mails to defraud and sentenced to eighteen months in prison. But he escaped from prison and remained a fugitive from justice for two years. He was then recaptured and served out his sentence. Theodore Roosevelt refused to grant Woodson a pardon because of the nature of his offense and his objectionable escape. Woodrow Wilson, however, granted a pardon. One case actually had a moderate Marc Rich feel to it. In 1907, Robert Hicks was sentenced to ten months in prison and fined one thousand dollars (a pretty hefty amount given the great financial panic of that year). Hicks appealed his case and was released on bond. He then fled to Europe. Hicks remained a fugitive from justice for over a dozen years and the government made no serious effort to retrieve him. Meanwhile, Hicks gave his services for the benefit of humanity. But, he never turned himself in. He was caught again. Hicks supporters eventually petitioned the president for a pardon. Woodrow Wilson commuted Hicks sentence a little over a month later and Calvin Coolidge granted Hicks a full pardon twelve years later (Ruckman, forthcoming).

Charles Anderson (May 8, 1907), George Hulme (September 14, 1910), Harold B. Faxon (February 27, 1913), Robert E. Hicks (commutation on July 14, 1915 and full pardon on June 6, 1927), J.T. Wilson (April 30, 1917), John Adam Schmidt (March 23, 1918), Bernard Goldman (May 27, 1927), Rudol Caylor (April 4, 1928), Albert Grant Ferguson (October 29, 1928), Elmer D. Smith (October 23, 1928), L. Preast (December 24, 1929),William Kirby Robinson (November 21, 1932).


23 Interestingly, a common theme among the Attorney Generals comments regarding fugitives is dramatic change in their lives and good works. One fugitive led an exemplary life. Another lived an upright, honorable life since the commission of his crime. Another lived an exemplary life and raised and educated a family of promising children. He also won the esteem of the best citizens in his community. One fugitive had lived a commendable, industrious life and another conducted himself in an upright manner (Ruckman, forthcoming). So, if Marc Rich lives an honorable, upright life, wins the esteem of the best citizens in his community and conducts himself in a commendable, upright manner for a considerable period of time why not pardon him? It is far too early to generalize about the frequency of pardons for fugitives throughout history but, if the period I have sampled is at all representative, it is safe to say that such pardons are neither normal nor extraordinary. They are rather like finding a dime on the sidewalk. It does not happen every day, but it is not worth reporting to the Times either. Clinton: the Contact Approach to Clemency USA Today noted several of the applications for Clintons last-minute pardons were supported by a Whos Who of Americas rich, famous and influential including: rock star Don Henley, historian Arthur Schelsinger, Jr., veteran newscaster Walter Cronkite, Lady Bird Johnson, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and former presidents Carter and Ford. 52 Democratic congressmen Earl Hilliard (AL), Charles Rangel (NY), Dale E. Kildee (MI), Patrick Kennedy (RI), Xavier Becerra (CA), Danny Davis (IL) and Maxine Waters (CA) supported clemency applications, as did Republicans Orrin Hatch (UT), Jim Ramstad (MN) and Fred Thompson (TN). 53 MSNBC also focused on the efforts of Henley and noted the co-founder of the Eagles donated $180,000 in soft money to Democratic political committees in 1996, $2,000 to Hillary Clintons Senate campaign and $2000 to Al Gore. 54 The New York Times linked clemency decisions to the influence of television producer Harry Thomason, Democratic fund-raiser Terry McAuliffe, Hugh Rodham (the First Ladys brother), Jack Quinn (former White House Counsel), the president and editor of the Las Vegas Sun, and a former roommate and classmate of the President at Oxford University and Yale Law School. 55 The implicit assumption of much of this reporting (and the critics who ran with it) was that Clintons clemency decision making was, in part, unduly influenced by fame, wealth and influence. One needed the right contacts to get a pardon from this guy. Its not what you know, but who you know, etc. The more subtle implication was that this was all somehow new, or particular to President Clinton. Interestingly, these assumptions cannot be easily matched against empirical evidence. The discipline of political science is a long, long way from caring about (much less systematically researching) what types of people support clemency applications and the impact of their support.
52 53

Celebrities Asked Clinton to Grant Pardons. USA Today, March 9, 2001. Congressmen, Senators Weighed in On Pardons. USA Today, March 9, 2001. 54 Jim Popkin, Rock Star Lobbied for Bookie. MSNBC.com, March 6, 2001. 55 Don Van Natta, Jr. and Marc Lacey, Access Proved Vital in Last-Minute Race for Clinton Pardons. New York Times, February 25, 2001.

24 But, consider the examples of presidents Ford and Carter. Having a former president support a clemency application must certainly be a plus, but it is by no means new. Franklin Pierce supported the clemency application of Virgil McCormick in 1862 and James Buchanan recommended the pardon of James and John McLune to Andrew Johnson in 1867. Harry Truman vigorously lobbied for the pardon of his former personal secretary, Matthew J. Connelly, during the Kennedy administration. Andrew Johnson and James Garfield were supporting clemency applications before they were even elected (Ruckman, forthcoming). Senators and Representatives are also cited with some frequency in the clemency warrants of presidents from 1789 to 1893 and the Annual Report of the Attorney General from 1885 to 1932. In some instances, numerous members of Congress support the same clemency application. Eighty-five members of the House and six members of the Senate supported clemency for John Y. Beall, but Lincoln refused to stop his hanging. Forty members of the 39th Congress supported clemency for R.M. Lee and Andrew Johnson granted clemency in 1865. Seventy-six Senators supported the clemency application of John D. Hart and William McKinley granted clemency in 1898. The phrase respectable citizens or influential citizens appears in literally thousands of warrants and explanations for clemency decisions appearing in the Annual Report. Consider what we know about the 358 individual pardons granted by Abraham Lincoln. The clemency warrants for these pardons cite the influence of high respectable citizens 140 times. Honorable citizens are cited in an additional 48 instances. Lincolns pardons reference Senators (15 warrants), Representatives (14 warrants), Governors (12 warrants), former Governors (2 warrants), state legislators (5 warrants), mayors (5 warrants), and former mayors (2 warrants). Lincolns clemency decisions were evidently swayed by fame and influence. The Washington Post was simply not there to spot all of the back-channel lobbying. CONCLUSION This paper was certainly not written with the intention of justifying, or rationalizing, President Clintons last-minute clemency bonanza. But it was written to document that at the end of his administration - the clear, accurate historical context that was necessary to make fair, intelligent judgments about his last-minute pardons and overall clemency record was simply not available to anyone. Without clear, accurate historical context, any congressional investigation of Clintons pardons was certainly doomed to be all thunder and no lightning. With radical improvements in public accessibility to data regarding the exercise of clemency, however, this necessary context is rapidly developing. This paper represents a first attempt to compare Clintons actions against what we should have known for many years, and now do know. It is a shame that the historical context for federal executive clemency has been so slow in developing, especially given the steady stream of notable pardons which have decorated our nations history. Political scientists have occasionally played journalists and generated lists of controversial pardons for their textbooks, but have given little or no effort to systematic exploration of clemency. Fords most famous pardon of Richard Nixon, the prominence of the issue of amnesty in the 1976 election, the Iran-Contra

25 pardons, and Bob Doles presidential debate haranguing of President Clinton over Whitewater pardons have not generated a single page of analysis in our top journals. When President Clinton left office, the media could count on little insight from political scientists on the topic of pardons because on this topic - we have simply chosen to be irrelevant. This paper suggests that it would be a good idea to begin the process of making the discipline more relevant in the classroom, if not anywhere else.

ADDITIONAL REFERENCES Abramowitz, Elkan and David Paget. 1964. Executive Clemency in Capital Cases, New York University Law Review, 39: 136-192. Adler, David Gray. 1989. The President's Pardon Power, in Inventing the American Presidency, Thomas E. Cronin (Editor), University Press of Kansas. Bedau, Hugo Adam. 1990. The Decline of Executive Clemency in Capital Cases, Review of Law and Social Change, 18: 255-272. Boudin, Leonard B. 1976. The Presidential Pardon of James R. Hoffa and Richard M. Nixon: Have the Limitations on the Pardon Power been Exceeded? University of Colorado Law Review, 48: 1-39. Browning, Peter. 1977. Amnesty for All: To Begin a New Life, The Nation, 224: 39-42. Buchanan, G. Sidney. 1978. The Nature of a Pardon Under the United States Constitution. 39 Ohio State Law Journal 36-65. Clark, Charles S. 1984. Reagan Parsimonious Use of Pardon Power, Congressional Quarterly Digest, November 3, 1984. Cobb, Paul Whitlock, Jr. 1989. Reviving Mercy in the Structure of Capital Punishment, Yale Law Journal, 99: 389-409. Cowlishaw, Patrick R. 1975. The Conditional Presidential Pardon, Stanford Law Review, 28: 149-77. Dorris, Jonathan Truman. 1977. Pardon and Amnesty under Lincoln and Johnson, Chapel Hill : The University of North Carolina Press. Duker, William F. 1977. The Presidential Power to Pardon: A Constitutional History. William and Mary Law Review, 18: 475-538. Garber, Ronald L. and Linda R. Singer. 1973. After Conviction. Simon and Schuster: New York. Humbert, W. H. 1941. The Pardoning Power of the President. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Public Affairs. Jenson, Christen. 1922. The Pardoning Power in the States. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, Illinois. Jorgensen, James N. 1993. "Clemency and Pardons Note," University of Richmond Law Review, 27: 345-370. Kobil, Daniel T. 1993. "Due Process in Death Penalty Commutations: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Clemency" University of Richmond Law Review, 27: 201-226. Kobil, Daniel T. 1991. "The Quality of Mercy Strained: Wresting the Pardoning Power from the King." Texas Law Review, 69: 569-641.

26 Krajick, Kevin. 1979. "The Quality of Mercy," Corrections Magazine, 5: 46-53. Ledewitz, Bruce and Scott Staples. 1993. "The Role of Executive Clemency in Modern Death Penalty Cases," University of Richmond Law Review, 27: 227-239. Moore, Kathleen Dean. 1989. Pardons: Justice, Mercy, and the Public Interest. Oxford University Press: New York. Moore, Kathleen Dean. 1993. Pardon for Good and Sufficient Reasons, University of Richmond Law Review, 27: 281-288. Newman, Charles L. 1968. Sourcebook on Probation, Parole and Pardons. Charles C. Thomas: Springfield, Il. Orman, John M. and Dorothy Rudoni. 1979 Exercise of the President's Discretionary Power in Criminal Justice Policy, Presidential Studies Quarterly, 9:415-427. Pederson, William D. 1977. Amnesty and Presidential Behavior: A Barberian Test. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 7: 175-185. Radelet, Michael L. and Barbara A. Zsembik. 1993. Executive Clemency in Post Furman Capital Cases, University of Richmond Law Review, 27: 289-314. Ringold, Solie M. 1966. The Dynamics of Executive Clemency. 52 American Bar Association Journal 240-3. Rozell, Mark. 1994. President Ford's Pardon of Richard M. Nixon: Constitutional and Political Considerations, Presidential Studies Quarterly, 24: 121-137. Rozell, Mark. 1989. The Presidential Pardon Power: A Bibliographic Essay. 5 Journal of Law and Politics 459-67. Ruckman, P.S., Jr. (Forthcoming). Pardon Me, Mr. President: A History of Federal Executive Clemency. Ruckman, P.S. Jr. (1998). President-centered and Presidency-centered Explanations of Federal Clemency Policy. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Political Science Association: Atlanta, Georgia (November). Ruckman, P.S., Jr. 1997. Executive Clemency in the United States: Origins, Development, and Analysis (1900-1993),Presidential Studies Quarterly, 27: 251271. Ruckman, P.S., Jr. 1995. Presidential Personality and Executive Clemency: A Reexamination. Social Science Quarterly, 76: 213-221. Ruckman, P.S., Jr. 1995a. Executive Clemency 1789-1995, A Preliminary Report. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Political Science Association: Tampa, Florida (November). Ruckman, P.S., Jr. 1994. Policy as an Indicator of Original Understanding: Executive Clemency in the Early Republic (1789-1817). Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, Atlanta, GA. Ruckman, P.S., Jr. and David Kincaid. 1999. Inside Lincolns Clemency Decision Making. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 29: 84-99. Sebba, Leslie. 1983. Amnesty and Pardon, in Encyclopedia of American Justice. Sanford H. Kadish (Editor in chief), New York: The Free Press. Scott, Austin W., Jr. 1952. The Pardoning Power, Annals of the American Academy of Political Science, 284: 95-100. Shichor, David and Donald R. Ranish. 1980. President Carter's Vietnam Amnesty: An Analysis of a Public Policy Decision, Presidential Studies Quarterly, 10: 443-50. Smith, Christopher E. and Scott P. Johnson. 1989. Presidential Pardons and

27 Accountability in the Executive Branch, The Wayne Law Review, 35: 1113-1131. Stoke, Harold W. 1927. A Review of the Pardoning Power, Kentucky Law Journal 16: 34- 42. U.S. Attorney General. 1939. Survey of Release Procedures. Volume III, U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington D.C U.S. Presidential Clemency Board: 1975, Report to the President, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.




Year 1795 1800 1807 1812 1812 1814 1815 1830 1862 1863 1863 1864 1864 1865 1865 1866 1866 1867 1868 1868 1893 1894 1902 1917 1917 1923 1924 1933 1945 1947 1952 1952 1974 1977

Recipients or Benefactors Whiskey Insurrectionists Pennsylvania Insurrectionists (Fries Rebellion) Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months) Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months) Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months) Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months) Pirates participating in War of 1812 Military deserters discharged, those confined released Political prisoners paroled Military deserters restored with only forfeiture of pay Rebellion participants (with exceptions) subject to oath Military deserters sentences mitigated, restored to duty Clarification of December 8, 1863, amnesty Military deserters (if returned to post in 60 days) Certain rebels of Confederate States clarification of previous amnesty ??? Military deserters restored with only forfeiture of pay Confederates (excepting certain officers) subject to oath Confederates (except those indicted for treason or felony) Confederates (universal and unconditional) Mormons practicing polygamy Mormons practicing polygamy Philippine insurrectionists, subject to oath 5,000 persons under suspended sentences Clarification, reaffirmation of June 14 amnesty Espionage Act ??? Over 100 military deserters. Restoration of citizenship. Over 1,500 who violated Espionage or Draft laws. Thousands of ex-convicts serving at least 1 year in war 1,523 draft evaders (recommended by Amnesty Board) Convicts serving armed forces at least 1 year since 1950 Military deserters convicted between 1945 and 1950 Vietnam draft evaders. Conditioned on public service Vietnam draft evaders. Unconditional pardon

Washington July 10 Adams May 21 Jefferson October 15 Madison February 7 Madison October 8 Madison June 14 Madison February 6 Jackson June 12 Lincoln February 14 Lincoln March 10 Lincoln December 8 Lincoln February 26 Lincoln March 26 Lincoln March 11 Johnson May 29 Johnson May 4 Johnson July 3 Johnson September 7 Johnson July 4 Johnson December 25 Harrison January 4 Cleveland September 25 T. Roosevelt July 4 Wilson June 14 Wilson August 21 Coolidge December 15 Coolidge March 5 F. Roosevelt December 23 Truman December 24 Truman December 23 Truman December 24 Truman December 24 Ford September 16 Carter January 21

SOURCE: P.S. Ruckman, Jr. Pardon Me, Mr. President (forthcoming).